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Monday, February 20, 2006

Entenza's Record: Poor Treatment of House Staff

By a former House DFL Staffer:

Shortly after Matt Entenza was elected House Minority Leader in 2002, he fired about a dozen House DFL Caucus employees, some of them with 20-plus years service. He said the positions were being eliminated by Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum and budget cuts. This was not true, as my job and others' were posted three days later. Instead, it appeared to some of us that age discrimination by Entenza was to blame.

Matt Entenza lied about the reasons for my termination and others'. Our positions were never eliminated due to GOP leadership and budget cuts, as Entenza claimed at our termination. Rather, our positions were publicly posted three days later and filled approximately a month later. None of those terminated was given the opportunity to even interview for their old positions.

In my department and other caucus departments, older, more senior employees were terminated by Entenza, while younger employees with less seniority were retained. One of those younger, less-senior employees retained was also a major campaign contributor to Entenza's short-lived attorney general campaign fund earlier that year. I was replaced by an individual at least 20 years younger than me and with about 20 years less experience than I have.

Other caucus members on the personnel committee were not aware of Entenza's firings, so they can be laid at Entenza's doorstep alone.

Because we were legislative employees, we were "unclassified," meaning we have no\ civil service protection. That makes it easy for legislators like Matt Entenza to abuse staff without fear of union reprisals, and employ the political spoils system when it suits their needs. Politicians like Entenza love to tout their union endorsements. But the very tactics Entenza used to terminate caucus employees and install younger, less senior employees, should outrage any labor union.

At least two of us filed complaints with the state Human Rights Department and federal EEOC. None were upheld, thanks to Entenza's continued lying in his response to our complaints. Several others consulted with lawyers about a lawsuit but none was undertaken.

The DFL should be ashamed to be associated with this type of abhorent behavior, particularly from one of their leaders who now wants to be attorney general.

This is in response to the person who wanted more details about the record of the way Entenza treats house staff.